‘SONNING EYE’ CAPTOR: “IT’S JUST A FISH. IT’S NO BIG DEAL”...
When Andy Dodd banked the huge mirror known as the ‘Sonning Eye’ way back in May 2000, little did he know he was inspiring a whole new generation of carp anglers...
“I’d be just as happy putting together a nice bag of roach. It’s stick float fishing for barbel that really flicks my switch. I go fishing for fun.”
BACK in the days before everybody had internet access at their fingertips, the main way to learn about big carp captures was to leaf through Angling Times.
For those intent on tracking down carp of record-shaking proportions, this often entailed cutting out the fish’s picture, and then gleaning as much information about the venue in question before setting off on a quest to catch the prized specimen.
When Andy Dodd banked a huge mirror weighing 52lb from an unnamed Reading DAA pit in May 2000, little did he know it would spark a similar scramble, with the fish instantly making it on to the ‘most-wanted’ lists of many of the sport’s biggest names – Terry Hearn and Dave Lane, to name just two.
However, the hype that followed the publication of the picture was completely lost on Andy, an all-rounder who admitted he only really went fishing ‘for fun’ and was just as likely to be found pole fishing for roach as targeting big carp.
The story of the capture certainly has a fairytale quality about it too. In just 25 hours’ fishing on the pit (soon identified as Sonning Eye Pit), Andy also caught carp of 41lb, 32lb 12oz, 24lb 4oz and 18lb. Yet he refused to get carried away with his exploits, as we discovered when interviewing Andy shortly after the historic capture.
He said: “I’m a bit of a weather freak, and whatever species I’m after I believe the key feature that affects catches is the weather.”
After banking four carp over three previous short evening sessions, Andy returned to the pit when conditions felt right.
“There was a warm wind hammering into a corner of the lake and the water was churned up and dirty. I filled in the spot with a bucket of groundbait, stuffed with grilled hemp and whole hemp, and dropped my rig over the top. The carp went berserk. They were drifting in and out of the coloured water and were clearly feeding.”
Three hours later Andy received a screaming take and after a four-minute battle, the huge mirror was netted by Andy’s mate in the diminishing light.
He added: “He told me I had a ‘thirty’, but when he tried to lift the net he couldn’t move it. As soon as we got it on the bank I knew it was 50lb.”
Despite his meteoric achievement, Andy steadfastly refused to get carried away, saying:
“It’s an enormous carp and I must admit I was surprised at its size. But in the grand scheme of things it’s just a fish. It’s no big deal. I’d be just as happy putting together a nice bag of roach. It’s stick float fishing for barbel that really flicks my switch. I go fishing for fun.”
ABOVE: How Angling Times reported the remarkable spring exploits of Andy Dodd on the ‘unnamed’ Reading DAA gravel pit 17 years ago.